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Arkansas has a deep-rooted history in the country's natural resources and transportation infrastructure. The state was also the initial home to Walmart's early beginnings, solidifying its importance in the United States business environment. Its dedication to stimulating the economy and encouraging business has also led to promising commercial expansion.
With new businesses often comes the need for more accounting professionals. As a result, the future for accountants and auditors in Arkansas looks bright — Projections Central estimates an 11.6% employment growth rate for these professionals in the state from 2020-2030.
The breadth of key industries in Arkansas, such as retail, transportation, and food processing, creates a solid foundation for various types of accountants to find work. Patient billing specialists, financial analysts, and audit and reimbursement specialists are among the most in-demand positions for Arkansas accountants.
Explore this guide for accounting requirements, what pursuing an accounting degree in Arkansas looks like, and accounting employment data for the state.
Arkansas at a Glance
- Population: 3,030,646
- Climate: Average Annual Temperature: 60.4 ℉ | Annual Precipitation: 50.6 inches
- Major Sports Teams: Arkansas Razorbacks
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 49
- Per Capita Income: $27,724
- Fortune 500 Companies: 5
- Accountants in Arkansas: 7,110
Sources: World Population Review, Current Results, NCES, U.S. Census ACS, BLS
Why Get an Accounting Degree in Arkansas?
Arkansas may not typically rank among the first states students consider when planning their higher education pathway. However, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data shows that the Natural State enrolled 188,672 postsecondary students in the 2020-2021 school year. That's much higher enrollment than in several other states, including Maine, Nevada, and Vermont.
Arkansas is also home to the unique Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, which has awarded over $4 billion in scholarships since 2009. The state also provides an easy-to-use scholarship search tool to help degree-seekers fund their education. With one of the country's lowest cost of living indexes, Arkansas offers an affordable option for many aspiring accountants.
Several of Arkansas' most popular colleges and universities, including the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University, offer accounting programs. These programs typically provide an excellent mix of math, accounting, and business topics to prepare learners for work in the state's various industries.
Pursuing an accounting degree in Arkansas is a wise move if you plan to start your career in the state. Accounting programs generally align with the state's certified public accountant (CPA) requirements to transition learners into sitting for the CPA exam in Arkansas.
Education Statistics for Arkansas
As the following figures indicate, Arkansas scores slightly lower than national averages in several higher education data points. For example, the state allocates fewer tax dollars to students and has lower percentages of adults with associate, bachelor's, or graduate degrees.
However, a higher percentage of students in Arkansas are enrolled in distance education compared to the national average.
|Higher Education Statistics||Arkansas Data||National Data|
|Students Enrolled in Distance Education||79.1%||72.8%|
|Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student||$8,886||$9,327|
|Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||$14,514||$15,959|
|Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree||7.5%||8.6%|
|Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree||15.2%||20.2%|
|Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher||8.6%||12.7%|
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census ACS
Accreditation for Arkansas Schools
Accreditation indicates that colleges and universities adhere to rigorous quality academic standards. Arkansas schools and programs may receive institutional or programmatic accreditation.
Programmatic accreditation comes from industry-specific accrediting agencies. These agencies accredit programs or departments that meet specific standards.
Institutional accreditation is the most sought-after among schools and employers. Schools with Arkansas accounting programs may most commonly be accredited regionally by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). HLC currently accredits Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas, both of which offer accounting programs.
Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Arkansas
Choosing a school and accounting program is a big step, and you might wonder if Arkansas is the best place to start your education. Degree-seekers have several options when paying for college, navigating possible concentrations, and choosing learning formats.
One point to consider is distance learning, which is relatively popular in Arkansas. Even if you take online courses at a school in another state, you can still network in Arkansas as you prepare for your career.
The following information offers additional considerations as you decide the best pathway for your future accounting career in Arkansas.
On-Campus Versus Online Program Options
Is an online or on-campus format right for you? As you begin your accounting education, consider the differences between on-campus, online, and hybrid programs, along with how they fit your learning style.
In a primarily rural state like Arkansas, the in-person connections with peers and instructors made in on-campus programs can offer an invaluable networking boost.
On-campus learners typically enjoy social learning environments and thrive with face-to-face instruction and collaboration.
Colleges in Arkansas tend to cluster around more populated areas, like Little Rock and Bentonville. Students in more rural areas might find that online programs allow them to attend school without a long commute.
Online accounting programs generally apply the same curriculum and expectations as on-campus programs. However, online students must remain self-motivated and able to learn concepts without as much instructor guidance.
Accounting students who prefer a blend of online and on-campus learning can consider hybrid delivery. These programs require learners to attend classes on campus at least part time. Degree-seekers who work full time may prefer a hybrid format for scheduling flexibility.
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Paying for Your Accounting Degree
According to 2020-2021 NCES data, the average tuition for college students in Arkansas is lower than the national averages for two-year and four-year schools. Still, the cost of a degree is an essential consideration for many learners.
Arkansas schools typically offer financial aid through grants, loans, fellowships, and scholarships. Students do not need to pay back fellowships, grants, and scholarships but are responsible for loan repayment.
Follow the links below to learn about the breadth of financial aid options an accounting degree in Arkansas may provide.
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
Arkansas schools typically reserve the lowest tuition rates for in-state learners.
Major universities in Arkansas, such as the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University, require students to have official residency in Arkansas for six months to qualify for in-state tuition. Many other schools across the country require at least 12 months of residency for this status.
Learners can also save on tuition by taking advantage of state reciprocity agreements, which allow out-of-state learners to qualify for Arkansas in-state tuition. For example, the University of Arkansas gives in-state tuition to students from Texas' Texarkana and Bowie County areas.
The school also offers a New Arkansan Non-Resident Tuition Award Scholarship. This scholarship awards $4,000 or more to degree-seekers from Georgia, Louisiana, and other surrounding states, to assist with tuition costs.
Cost of Living in Arkansas
A state's cost of living also plays an important role in the total cost of a degree, as many learners must also budget for essential costs while attending school.
Arkansas has one of the lowest costs of living in the country, according to World Population Review. On average, you can expect to pay less for groceries, housing, transportation, and other everyday costs in Arkansas than in many other states.
Careers for Accounting Graduates in Arkansas
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects accounting and auditing careers to grow by 6% nationwide from 2021-2031. Accountants specializing in financial advising and analysis may have even more opportunities as general accounting tasks become automated.
The BLS also projects economic health and accounting needs to grow together. However, the Arkansas economy ranks 41st on the U.S. News Economy Rankings, indicating that the demand for accountants in the state may not align with national demand.
Still, the Big Four accounting firms have a presence within Arkansas, particularly in the Bentonville and Little Rock metropolitan areas. Bentonville ranks second in Arkansas' best places to live by the Chamber of Commerce for its healthy economy, mix of Fortune 500 companies, and high-paying jobs.
Additionally, several top industries in Arkansas require accounting specialists to perform financial management duties. Advanced manufacturing, financial services and technologies, and healthcare are a few prominent industries in the state that require accountants.
Explore potential accounting careers and Arkansas employment trends below.
Popular Accounting Careers in Arkansas
Financial managers help organizations increase profits through financial analysis, budgeting, and investing. They also may assist with tax preparation and law adherence, billing processes, and risk management. Employers generally seek candidates with bachelor's degrees, but some may prefer CPA credentials or chartered financial analyst certification.
- Job Outlook in Arkansas (2020-30): +21.8%
- Source: Projections Central
Compliance officers oversee organizations' adherence to safety standards, licensure regulations, and other compliance measures. They also perform audits and inspections to identify compliance risks. A bachelor's degree is typically required for the role, but some compliance officers may also pursue certifications to advance their careers.
- Job Outlook in Arkansas (2020-30): +8.9%
- Source: Projections Central
These professionals help individuals create a financial strategy to meet their goals, such as paying off debt or planning for retirement. Entry-level personal financial advisors typically possess bachelor's degrees, but some employers may prefer master's-level candidates or certified financial planners.
- Job Outlook in Arkansas (2020-30): +6.5%
- Source: Projections Central
Arkansas Employment Trends
|2030 Projected Employment||9,140||1,488,200|
|Projected Job Growth, 2020-30||+11.6%||+6.9%|
Source: Projections Central
|Career||Arkansas Employment||Arkansas Average Annual Salary||National Average Annual Salary|
|Associate Degree Recommended|
|Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks||10,230||$38,110||$45,140|
|Bachelor's Degree Recommended|
|Property Appraisers and Assessors||820||$41,390||$70,050|
|Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents||1,700||$58,490||$93,260|
|Tax Examiners and Collectors||540||$53,010||$63,200|
|Master's Degree Recommended|
|Accountants and Auditors||7,100||$69,410||$83,980|
|Personal Financial Advisors||1,190||$110,900||$119,960|
Source: BLS OEWS
As you can see from the BLS data above, Arkansas salaries for accounting professionals tend to be lower than national averages. However, these figures reflect the low cost of living in the state.
A few accounting careers, such as personal financial advisors and payroll clerks, also pay relatively close to national averages. Arkansas also pays personal financial advisors similar salaries as Texas, Ohio, and Florida.
Accounting and auditing specialties could be a worthy concentration for those interested in potential job opportunities in Arkansas. Professionals in the state earn an average salary of over $69,000, with organizations employing approximately 7,100 accounting and auditing professionals annually.
CPA Requirements in Arkansas
Every state has specific requirements for CPA initial licensure and renewal. The Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy (ASBPA) oversees Arkansas accounting requirements for CPAs.
Arkansas does not have an age or citizenship requirement but requires each candidate to have a Social Security number. CPA requirements in Arkansas include:
A bachelor's degree
30 hours of upper-level accounting in specific areas, including auditing, federal taxation, and financial accounting
30 hours in business with non-accounting courses
Together, these educational requirements must equal at least 150 credit hours.
After passing the exam and becoming licensed, each licensee must take one hour of ethics training through the ASBPA and three additional hours of ethics every three years. They also need to complete at least 40 continuing education credits within the year before their license expiration date.
Questions About Arkansas Accounting Requirements
How do I become an accountant in Arkansas?
Accountants in Arkansas typically begin their careers by pursuing an accounting or business administration degree in the state. This level of education provides the prerequisites to sit for the CPA exam, including coursework in accounting and business. Some accountants then work toward master's degrees.
How much do accountants earn in Arkansas?
According to BLS data from May 2021, accountants and auditors earn $69,410 on average. However, salaries for other accounting professionals in the state vary. For example, property appraisers earn an average of $41,390, while personal financial advisors earn an average salary of $110,900.
How much is the CPA exam in Arkansas?
First-time applicants taking the CPA exam in Arkansas pay an initial fee of $50. Additionally, each section has fees of between $75-$120. Test-takers must also pay $238.15 for each of the four sections as contract examination provider fees.
How long does it take to become a CPA in Arkansas?
To sit for the Arkansas CPA exam, each applicant must have a bachelor's degree. An accounting or business administration degree in Arkansas that satisfies this requirement typically takes four years to complete. The processing time for the CPA application may take about four weeks, but students can sit for the exam once approved. Generally, prospective accountants can expect to become a CPA 4-5 years after beginning their accounting program.
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